Thursday, January 17, 2008

How Pregnant Am I, Anyway? (I was told there'd be no math!)

I had just started to really wrap my brain around the concept of pregnancy lasting ten months, not nine, when I read Beth's post about how very, very peeved she is about that very concept.

She makes some valid points - that months are not 28 days long, for example - and that the concept of counting the two weeks before conception as part of the pregnancy throws everything out a little bit further.

I don't think non-pregnant people think about the fact that months aren't 28 days long, though. And I know for sure they haven't thought about the fact that women's cycles are rarely 28 days long. So when people ask me, "How far along are you?", what the vast majority of them really want to know - in my humble opinion - is how much longer until I give birth. And because they are used to considering months as about 4 weeks long, and they've never considered the ten-months-vs-nine-months debate, any answer I give them will be converted to months by dividing by four, then automatically subtracted from nine months.

Example? A teenage girl I know asked me how far along I was. "24 weeks," I answered. She stared at me blankly. "Um, so that's about 6 months, right?" "Yeah, about that," I replied, not willing to go off on a know-it-all tangent this time. "Oh, okay, so you've got three months to go." And away she flounced, believing with all her heart that my baby would be born in mid-April.

Pregnant ladies, on the other hand, or formerly pregnant ladies, merit a more honest answer. A mom I know asked me the same question - how far along are you? "23 weeks," I told her. "Oh, so it's about time for you to have that nasty glucose tolerance test, eh?" Despite the fact that her daughter is now nine years old, she remembered certain stages of pregnancy well enough to compare her journey to mine, and recall which tests happened when. (I was really happy to tell her that one of the very first things I'd asked my midwife, back in the first pregnancy, was whether I had to have that test, and that she had responded there were absolutely no "have-to(s)" in my care with her. So, no nasty glucose test for me! Woot!)

So, enlighten me, readers. If you are or have been pregnant, what did you tell people when they asked how far along you were? And if you haven't been pregnant, what kind of answer do you expect (and how do you interpret it) when you ask a woman how far along she is?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a midwife, people are always baffled when they tell me they are "x months" and I stare blankly - "what does that translate to in weeks?" I have to ask and roughly do the math....

I'm not an idiot midwife, really, pregnancy just goes by weeks for me....

sarapants said...

I always thought in terms of weeks in my head, but would tell people in terms of months. But during my first pregnancy this resulted in me being "5 months along" for approximately a year. Or at least 7 or 8 weeks. The math just doesn't quite work. Even for people who believe that "math is their life!"

WordyGirl said...

Hey sarapants, that's exactly it! Because 24 weeks = 6 months and also = 16 weeks to go which = 4 months to go which means people expect you to be FIVE months along not SIX ... oh so confusing. I'll be glad when the pregnancy math is over, though I understand calculating your kid's age can be just as tricksy!

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